Linking the August 2017 Attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils to Islamic State External Security Apparatus Through Foreign Fighters
The Ripoll cell, to which the jihadists who perpetrated the August 2017 attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils belonged, is best understood as a cell linked to the central structures of Islamic State (IS) through displaced or returned foreign fighters of Western European origin. This can be deduced, on the one hand, from a contextual and in-depth analysis of IS notifications and pronouncements in the aftermath of the attacks, unveiling the role played by the jihadist organization’s “external security” apparatus in instigating and guiding the Ripoll cell in attack planning and preparations. On the other hand, this can also be deduced from a study of both direct and circumstantial evidence about the cross-border movements and international contacts of the main cell members, particularly in and out of Belgium in approximately the year and a half prior to the August 2017 attacks. In addition, information emerging from intelligence sources corroborates, or is consistent with, this perspective.
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